Saturday, September 9, 2017

What Happened to the Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

Review by Bill Doughty

The Wolf and the Crane

A Wolf once got a bone stuck in his throat. So he went to a Crane and begged her to put her long bill down his throat and pull it out. "I'll make it worth your while," he added. The Crane did as she was asked, and got the bone out quite easily. The Wolf thanked her warmly, and was just turning away, when she cried, "What about that fee of mine?" "Well, what about it?" snapped the Wolf, baring his teeth as he spoke; "you can go about boasting that you once put your head into a Wolf's mouth and didn't get it bitten off. What more do you want?"

"In serving the wicked, expect no reward and be thankful if you escape injury for your pains."

The Wolf and the Lamb

A Wolf came upon a Lamb straying from the flock, and felt some compunction about taking the life of so helpless a creature without some plausible excuse; so he cast about for a grievance and said at last, "Last year, sir, you grossly insulted me." "That is impossible, sir," bleated the Lamb, "for I wasn't born then." "Well," retorted the Wolf, "you feed in my pastures." "That cannot be," replied the Lamb, "for I have never yet tasted grass." "You drink from my spring, then," continued the Wolf. "Indeed, sir," said the poor Lamb, "I have never yet drunk anything but my mother's milk." "Well, anyhow," said the Wolf, "I'm not going without my dinner": and he sprang upon the Lamb and devoured it without more ado.

"Hypocritical speeches are easily seen through."

The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

A Wolf resolved to disguise himself in order that he might prey upon a flock of sheep without fear of detection. So he clothed himself in a sheepskin, and slipped among the sheep when they were out at pasture. He completely deceived the shepherd, and when the flock was penned for the night he was shut in with the rest. But that very night as it happened, the shepherd, requiring a supply of mutton for the table, laid hands on the Wolf in mistake for a Sheep, and killed him with his knife on the spot.

"Harm seek, harm find."

Aesop, like Uncle Remus and other fabulists (and many children's book authors), used animals to show human behavior. Charles Santore's illustrations of animals show "some particular aspect of the human condition" and are featured in "Aesop's Fables" (dilithium Press ltd., 1988, and Sterling Children's Books, 2010, for Kohl's Cares charity).

Santore was inspired by English writer G. K. Chesterton, who wrote that animals "have no choice, they cannot be anything but themselves." Without critical thinking human nature is animal nature.

Charles Santore reimagines Aesop, "Alice in Wonderland" and "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz."
We featured the wolf in this blogpost, but here's one involving an ass and lion that illustrates how character and integrity must trump mere appearance and vanity. 

The Donkey (Ass) in the Lion's Skin

An Ass found a Lion's Skin, and dressed himself up in it. Then he went about frightening everyone he met, for they all took him to be a lion, men and beasts alike, and took to their heels when they saw him coming. Elated by the success of his trick, he loudly brayed in triumph. The Fox heard him, and recognized him at once for the Ass he was, and said to him, "Oh, my friend, it's you, is it? I, too, should have been afraid if I hadn't heard your voice."

"No disguise will hide one's true character."

The uncredited text in this children's book appears to be from the 105-year-old translation of Aesop's fables by Vernon Jones. Thank the internet, and collective critical thinkers for perpetuating the lessons and universal truths of Aesop. Check out this exquisite site with sometimes weird fables (many requiring some forgiveness by the reader in remembering they were written in 600 BCE and translated in 1912).

In the long list of fables at this site, this non-anthropomorphic one appears just before the wolf-and-goose story (file art from 1908 is not by Santore): 

The Trumpeter Taken Prisoner

A Trumpeter marched into battle in the van of the army and put courage into his comrades by his warlike tunes. Being captured by the enemy, he begged for his life, and said, "Do not put me to death; I have killed no one: indeed, I have no weapons, but carry with me only my trumpet here." But his captors replied, "That is only the more reason why we should take your life; for, though you do not fight yourself, you stir up others to do so."

"Words may be deeds."

More than a century ago Chesterton compares Aesop with America's Uncle Remus, noting the storytelling connection of slaves, teachers and students, including the Brothers Grimm, in educating generations of people throughout the centuries. Chesterton warns against hubris and narcissism in the introduction to Vernon Jones's translation: "Whether fables began with Aesop or began with Adam, whether they were German and medieval as Reynard the Fox, or as French and Renaissance as La Fontaine, the upshot is everywhere essentially the same: that superiority is always insolent, because it is always accidental; that pride goes before a fall; and that there is such a thing as being too clever by half."

Even short fables can have profound meanings. Simple stories can illustrate discoveries of the philosophers and inform leaders' insights.

In "Red Scorpion: The War Patrols of USS Rasher," author Peter Sasgen describes the submarine's CO Capt. Willard Ross Laughon, who had attended the U.S. Naval Academy from 1929 to 1933. He was well-read and had "dissertations from Aesop's Fables to Kant, expounded with cold logic and heated interest, with an admirable choice of words."

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Command At Sea: 'Foreword Presence'

Review by Bill Doughty

One hundred years ago, in 1917, Rear Adm. Harley F. Cope was midway through his studies at the U.S. Naval Academy. He would go on to serve 30 years in the Navy aboard submarines, destroyers, auxiliary ships and battleships. He commanded fleet oiler USS Salinas (AO 19) at the beginning of World War II and commanded USS Tennessee (BB 43) when the war ended.

In the middle of WWII, he published a book which has been a foundation for Navy leaders for generations: "Command at Sea" (United States Naval Institute, 1943).

This "how to" book for officers in command describes the roles and responsibilities of officers and crew, maintenance and administration of the ship, safety at sea, taking command, and combat operations, among other chapters.

I picked up a copy of the third edition, published during the Cold War (1966) and edited by Capt. Howard Bucknell III. Among the fascinating topic headings are "The Value of Admitting a Mistake," "Otherwise Hold Your Peace," and "Good Sea Manners."

Interestingly, the foreword for the third edition is by Adm. John S. "Jack" McCain, written just over a year before his son, naval aviator Lt. John S. McCain III, the future senior senator of Arizona, would be captured and imprisoned in Hanoi.

In the foreword, then-Vice Adm. "Jack" McCain, writing more than a half century ago in July 1966, lauds "Command At Sea" for setting guidelines and formulating a "working philosophy." Here's a good part of Adm. McCain's well-written and powerful foreword:
"The key words in this publication are mission, readiness, goals and personnel. Mission is the purpose, or the reason for being. Readiness is the preparation or training to accomplish the objective. The ultimate goal is victory. None is possible without dedicated personnel, both officers and bluejackets.
"That which makes a professional naval officer or petty officer competent can be acquired. Leadership and skills are more accomplishments than endowments. The secret to the attainment of both is effort and application. Pride, loyalty, and discipline are byproducts stemming from the proper exercise of command leadership. In all professions, but most of all in the naval profession, leadership is man's greatest achievement. By simple definition, leadership is the ability to inspire the officers and men of one's command to maximum effort under all conditions.
"The path to success in command is predicated on understanding. To perform, a man must first understand. It is most important that each officer and bluejacket understand: first, the Navy's overall objectives and mission; then, the particular goals and mission of his own ship. A commanding officer is wise to accentuate the wide range of opportunities and activities that are open to his men in a Navy career. Today's Navy represents the widest variety of possible activities of any profession. The Navy, in close concert with the Marine Corps, engages in all aspects of modern warfare – land, sea, and air."
Adm. John S. "Jack" McCain Jr.
Adm. McCain shows the challenges of a multi-ocean naval presence. He notes that "leadership applies to all echelons" in the chain of command, and he describes life at sea, where accountability and responsibility weigh heavily for everyone in leadership positions:
"Life at sea is a constant conflict of man against the elements. Endless struggle with winds, tides, currents, and storms at sea is everyday routine to the seaman. At sea, a man's entire mode of living changes. A ship is a world unto itself.
"Working hours are subject to all of the vagaries of life at sea, such as weather, enemy action, navigation, operation of machinery, and many other factors. Life is a never-ending round of watches, drills, work routines, meals, reveille, and taps that occupy twenty-four hours of every day, seven days a week.
"A naval officer does not commute to his work, he lives with it. It takes years of exposure and experience before the Navy many completely adjusts to this way of life. Life at sea is a frame of mind, an acquired attitude.
"At sea, the burdens of accountability and responsibility for lives and equipment are secure only when entrusted to those who have qualified for command at sea by virtue of performance. Indeed, the responsibilities are great. The ever-present cloak of responsibility, though seemingly intangible, is never light; and, once accepted, can never be cast off. The commanding officer is mindful of this responsibility in his every challenge and decision every moment of the day and night."
Cmdr. Allen Maxwell Jr., commanding officer of the guided-missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88), addresses members of the crew during an operational stand-down aboard the ship. Preble is underway conducting a composite training unit exercise with the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group in preparation for an upcoming deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Morgan K. Nall)
The captain of a navy ship literally "has the conn," responsible and accountable – the final decision maker at sea. But the wise CO communicates  and consults with his Sailors and ensures there is a strong "working relationship between officers and subordinates based on mutual confidence and respect." In this insightful foreword McCain concludes:
"Command at sea assumes an even greater significance as the seas themselves grow in importance. There is no single factor of greater consequence to the security of the United States – economic, political, and military – in the years to come than sea power, with all of its ramifications. This power not only includes the surface of the oceans, the skies above, and the depths below, but also a new and major task: the projection of power inland."
Today, he would include space and cyberspace as domains of consideration.

McCain's writing is fresh-sounding in contrast with Cope's and Bucknell's formal and sometimes technical prose outlining codes, regs and "thou-shalts."

"Command at Sea" is filled with advice about morale, "tone," loyalty, communication, standards, etiquette, practices, procedures, boldness and integrity.

The writing in 1943 and 1966 may be stiff and dated and white male-centric (no mention of women at sea, three sentences about "minority groups" in 500+ pages, and several references to "Navy Wives"), but the foundation for good leaderships still rings solid. In a way, the old-fashioned writing accentuates the strength of the foundation: despite how society and the Navy has evolved over the years it's important to be brilliant on the basics at the deckplates. 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

He Made His Bed

Review by Bill Doughty
"Life is a struggle and the potential for failure is ever present, but those who live in fear of failure, or hardship, or embarrassment will never achieve their potential. Without pushing your limits, without occasionally sliding down the rope headfirst, without daring greatly, you will never know what is truly possible in your life."
Those are the words of retired Navy Adm. William H. McRaven, author of "Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life ... and Maybe Change the World" by Adm. William H. McRaven (Grand Central Publishing, Hachette Group, 2017)
Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL students participate in Surf Passage at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado. Surf Passage is one of many physically demanding evolutions that are a part of the first phase of SEAL training. Navy SEALs are the maritime component of U.S. special forces and are trained to conduct a variety of operations from the sea, air and land. (DVIDS photo by Kyle Gahlau, Navy Media Content Services)
McRaven describes SEAL training in Coronado and the life-lessons to be learned, including: the importance of routine, perseverance and commitment, "even in the darkest moments;" failure makes people stronger; bold decision-making can and did save lives in Afghanistan; and to succeed "find someone to help you paddle."

He encourages people to face and keep paddling past their fears. It takes a team, but every individual can make a difference.
"If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person, a Washington, Lincoln, King, Mandela, and even a young girl from Pakistan, Malala. One person can change the world by giving people hope."
"Hope is the most powerful force in the universe. With hope you can inspire nations to greatness. With hope you can raise up the downtrodden. With hope you can ease the pain of unbearable loss. Sometimes all it takes is one person to make a difference."
Gen. John Kelly, United States Marine Corps, retired.
McRaven tells of the inspiring story of a visit to Dover Air Force Base by Marine Lt. Gen. John Kelly, then military assistant to the Secretary of Defense, to comfort families of dozens of service members killed in the war in Afghanistan. Kelly had lost a son in combat, Marine 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, killed in Afghanistan while serving with the Third Battalion, Fifth Marines. On that day at Dover, he provided real and personal comfort to others.
"Only John Kelly could have made a difference that day," McRaven writes. "His words were words of understanding. His were words of compassion, and above all, his were words of hope."

This small but powerful book is a quick and easy read but with a deceptively deep message of positivity in a pessimistic and divided time.
" is hard and sometimes there is little you can do to affect the outcome of your day. In battle soldiers die, families grieve, your days are long and filled with anxious moments. You search for something that can give you solace, that can motivate you to begin your day, that can be a sense of pride in an oftentimes ugly world. But it is not just combat. it is daily life that needs this same sense of structure. Nothing can replace the strength and comfort of one's faith, but sometimes the simple act of making your bed can give you the lift you need to start your day and provide you the satisfaction to end it right."
A Navy SEAL can inspire his team. His team can win a battle or cut off the head of a "snake." A battle or a key mission can win or stop a war.

One act can make a difference. "Start off by making your bed," advises McRaven. He made his bed and he changed his life and the lives of others, and he can change the lives of those willing to read and lead.
Former Navy Admirals McRaven and Stavridis
Before leaving the Navy after 37 years of distinguished service as a Navy SEAL, Adm. McRaven served as commander of U.S. Special Operations Forces. Like Adm. James Stavridis, who serves as dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, McRaven moved from leading in the military to leading in higher education. McRaven is chancellor of the University of Texas system.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

A Jerry Lewis Farewell

by Bill Doughty

Jerry Lewis couldn't join the military, reportedly because of a heart murmur. He went on to have a long career, at first as part of a comedy duo with Rat Packer Dean Martin, then as a solo comedian. 

Lewis died today in Las Vegas. He was 91. He brought joy to the world, especially during the dark days of the Cold War. And he served as a humanitarian, raising more than 2 billion dollars for the Muscular Dystrophy Association over 45 years.

Both Dino and Lewis "joined the Navy" in "Sailor Beware," one of those great lowbrow black-and-white comedies of the middle of the last century. As with the Three Stooges and Marx Brothers comedies, the lack of a laugh track somehow made the goofy humor drier and funnier.

Lewis signed up again for duty in "Don't Give Up the Ship," filmed in 1959 aboard USS Vammen (DE 644), named for naval aviator Ens. Clarence E. Vammen, lost in the Battle of Midway.

Jerry Lewis also "served" (food) in the Army and sang about the stereotype that Sailors had it a lot better than Soldiers: "Navy Gets the Gravy and Army Gets the Beans."

Lewis is the well-meaning neurotic that would inspire Woody Allen and Peter Sellers. His work is controversial in its over-the-top slapstick ridiculousness. But "Don't Give Up the Ship" is considered by auteurs as one of his best.

In the end Jerry Lewis faded away and became somewhat controversial with his sclerotic views. But in his heyday, he was energetic, full of life, and willing to let his freak flag fly.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

North Korea's Real Problem

Review by Bill Doughty

What does the leader of North Korea want?

What was Soviet Russia's role in creating the so-called Democratic Republic of North Korea?

How did the Kim regime gain and keep total control over the people of North Korea?

Why is the best weapon against the totalitarian regime also the least destructive?

These and other questions are brought to mind in a bite-sized book of history and context: "North Korea: Unmasking Three Generations of Mad Men" (Lightning Guides, Callisto Media, Berkeley, CA, 2015).

Like Neil deGrasse Tyson's, "Astrophysics for People in a Hurry," this book offers quick, to-the-point, relevant information – in this case about the inscrutable black hole of North Korea in the 21st century.

Nothing illustrates the stark difference between the North and South better than the NASA image of the Korean Peninsula showing a bright South Korea with blazing lights of Seoul and Pusan compared with the North's blackness except for a "tiny speck of light in the region of Pyongyang."

The editors of this Lightning Guide enlighten readers with the origins of North Korea in the years following World War II. The Soviet Union wanted the entire peninsula under their control, so they supported Stalinist Kim Il-sung, who served as a major in the Soviet Red Army in the 1940s until Imperial Japan surrendered.
"Though both North and South were hoping for a unified Korea, the ideological tensions between the pro- and anti-communists were ultimately too powerful. In the short time between the establishment of the Democratic People's Republic in the north and the Republic of Korea in the south, it became increasingly clear that each side would try to overtake the other. The conflict – one as much between the Soviet Union and the United States as between North and South Korea – cost millions of lives and cemented in place a division that brought chaos to one side and prosperity to the other."
Kim Il-sung launched an invasion of the south on June 25, 1950, taking control of Seoul. With the help of the U.S. military and the United Nations, the communists were forced back to the 38th Parallel, which became a demarcation line under the Korean Armistice Agreement and created a militarized demilitarized zone. Notably, China came to the aid of the North Korean regime to fight against UN forces.

The endangered Amur Leopard
One of the more fascinating chapters of this book is an examination of the DMZ, a "deceptively peaceful" swath of land that "crosses through prairies, mountains, lakes, tidal marshes and swamps" and is home to endangered species including the Amur Leopard. Naturally, the North opposes UNESCO's (United Nations Environmental, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) efforts to designate and protect endangered wildlife in the DMZ – "with typical North Korean rhetoric about the South's ulterior motives for the designation request."

The paranoia and resentment of leaders in the North creates an environment of fear, hate, intolerance and distrust, where absolute obedience is mandated ("Juche") and freedom seems like a fantasy.

This Lightning Guide quickly introduces us to each of the three Kims who have ruled with an iron fist and who continue to threaten the United States. "Son of the Sun" Kim Jong-il is introduced and described as leaving a "legacy of destruction and despair." He curried favor with his father through narcissistic fawning, built thousands of statues of his father throughout the countryside in the midst of a nationwide famine, and produced thousands of propaganda films. Kim Jong-un, the current dictator, continues his father's and grandfather's quest for totalitarian power and a reunited Korean Peninsula. But in the Kims' world, reunification can come about only if the peninsula is under the control of North Korea.

Will the United States be lured into another war? What if we have faith in our defensive capabilities and the power of a freedom and prosperity? Would knowledge of the outside world be the ultimate weapon to free the people of North Korea? When will the "light come on" for the oppressed people in the north?
"To those living outside North Korea, the situation can seem abstract. Oppression is less harsh without the sound of individual cries, and the Kims have gagged an entire nation. Starvation can be difficult to understand for people who have never been hungry, and the Kims have made it invisible. Perhaps their isolation is a blessing to North Koreans, since just across the Demilitarized Zone, so close and yet so far away, people with the same cultural legacy are thriving. Yet the electronics and digital revolution that has brought so much prosperity to the South may eventually be the undoing of the Kim Dynasty. When information [objective truth] is the greatest threat to a regime, a single tablet or cell phone may end up being more powerful than Kim Jung-un's weapons of mass destruction and repression."
That may be the regime's real problem: how to defend against the truth.

Freedom fighters, including defectors, routinely send information via balloons carrying information leaflets, snacks and even U.S. and ROK currency. Broadcasters send information over radio waves to the hungry people in the north.

This small book can whet your appetite to dig deeper for more information about the history of North Korea, and I'm working my way through Bradley K. Martin's 874-page "Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty" (St. Martin's Press, 2004, 2006), which includes details of the USS Pueblo incident and the effects of "Vietnam Syndrome."

Martin considers options for dealing with North Korea and urges patience and understanding even in the face of heated hyperbolic rhetoric. His conclusion: "If the United States should feel compelled to fight with North Korea, I had been saying and writing for a decade, the war should be fought with information rather than bullets."

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Fighting Fundamentalism, Fanaticism and Tyranny

Reviews by Bill Doughty

Adm. John Sylvester "Slew" McCain.
One hundred years ago, in August 1917, Lt. John S. "Slew" McCain (grandfather of Sen. John S. McCain) served aboard USS San Diego (Armored Cruiser No. 6). 

The USS San Diego joined the Atlantic Fleet to perform vital escort duties, protecting American ships from German attack in the First World War.

Out of the ashes of World War I, nationalism and Nazism arose in Germany. Tyranny grew and spread in Imperial Japan, leading to World War II. 

Sen. McCain's grandfather, Adm. John S. "Slew" McCain took a stand as Pacific Carrier Commander, alongside other heroes like Nimitz, Spruance, King, Mitscher and Halsey, to fight fundamentalism, tyranny and fanaticism nearly 75 years ago.

Three books explore those three concepts – fundamentalism, tyranny and fanaticism. One book also asks the question, "Can it happen here?"

From "A Little History of Religion" by Richard Holloway (Yale University Press, 2016):
"Fundamentalism is a tantrum. It's a screaming fit, a refusal to accept new realities" such as equality for women, gays and people of other races. "But if scientific change and the new knowledge it brings is hard for the fundamentalist mind to accept, even harder is change in the way we run society. In our era, religious fundamentalism became more agitated by social change than by the pressures of science. And in some of its forms not only did it get angry. It got violent."
Radical extremist fundamentalists such as ISIS claim their interpretation of reality is factual, even if it is not verified by a critical objective review of the facts.
"Fundamentalists don't debate. They don't try the evidence. They deliver a sentence. And it's always 'guilty' because their holy book has already decided the issue. This means that the crisis of fundamentalism in our time, including its violent versions, poses a question that goes to the heart of religions that claim to be based on a revelation that came directly from God. Surely, if it is used to justify not only the love of ignorance but the love of violence then there is something fundamentally wrong with it, to borrow their own language."
A contemporary of Adm. John S. McCain in both world wars, Sir Winston Churchill, believed that leaders must first and foremost have strong principles and then rely on objective facts upon which to base decisions.

The first targets of fascists and tyrants are reason, truth and free speech.

In Brian E. Fogarty's "Fascism: Why Not Here?" (Potomac Books, 2009) we see how authoritarianism arose in Germany in the 1930s, during the same years that Sen. McCain's grandfather was studying air warfare, on his way to earning his wings (at the age of 52) and becoming commander of USS Ranger (CV-4).

Fogarty defines fascism as "totalitarianism that enlists citizens against themselves."

Benjamin Franklin warned centuries earlier, "Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Sir Winston Churchill speaks at Harvard, Sept. 6, 1943.
On Sept. 6, 1943, speaking at Harvard University, Winston Churchill said, "Tyranny is our foe, whatever trappings or disguise it wears, whatever language it speaks, be it external or internal, we must forever be on our guard, ever mobilized, ever vigilant, always ready to spring at its throat. In all this, we march together."

At the same time, in the late summer of 1943, Vice Adm. "Slew" McCain was the new Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air), about to head back to Pearl Harbor to take command of "huge task forces, spearheaded by carrier-based aircraft" against Imperial Japan.

Fogarty, like Holloway, spotlights the importance of objective facts and reason. He notes how in the 1930s the Nazis sponsored public book burnings, abolished the free press and dissent, and began to ostracize Jews and other non-Aryans as members of the public went along.

Brian Fogarty
"More than anything else, the rise of Nazism was fueled by the negation of reason as a basis for government and for social and political discourse," Fogarty writes.

"Without universal or at least agreed-upon standards of knowledge, the truth of a statement comes to depend on the speaker's identity, persuasiveness or charisma." That can lead to blindly following, as happened in Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in the early part of the last century.

"People commit evil, or acquiesce as others do it in their name, when it is sanctioned and legitimated by the community in which they belong." He warns us to beware of a "vortex of fear that drown(s) out debate and reason."

So, "why not here?" or put another way in the book's final chapter, "Can It Happen Here?" Fogarty answers with "fundamental ambiguity":
"On the one hand, Americans have a history since the nation's beginning of fierce individualism and of resistance to authority. The national mythology is replete with challenges to every social institution – state, family, church, school – and Americans tell and retell the stories of dissidents and rebels. One of the abiding national myths is the revolution against the English mother country – the most powerful empire of its day – which gave birth to the nation itself. And viewed from this perspective, we have been a nation of rebels ever since, from the Shays and Whiskey rebellions, to slave revolts and the Underground Railroad, to the abolition movement and John Brown's insurrection, and to the Civil War itself. More recent social and cultural movements have also challenged popular convention if not the authority of the state ... It is true that Americans have not hesitated to defy authority when they found it necessary, but they also have been astonishingly conformist and willing to acquiesce in their own oppression when faced with uncertainty and threats. Even the most revered acts of resistance to authority – women's suffrage, civil rights, (the counterculture movement of the Vietnam era, gay pride), and many other movements – usually brought negative reactions from fellow citizens who viewed the causes as un-American, immoral, sinful, or just weird."
Germany and Japan suffered greatly after the worldwide depression. Both had a chip-on-their-shoulder nationalist attitude as victims who wanted to participate in global imperialism. That's why most of their citizenry supported race-based fascism leading to the Second World War.

As an immigrant nation, however, the United States may not be as susceptible. Here, "racism has been more divisive than unifying," for most Americans. Diversity may be our biggest strength in being able to resist fundamentalism, tyranny and fascism.

Fogarty writes, "American society includes too many ethnic and racial groups to form a credible 'them' from which 'we' can protect ourselves." But he says, we may not have faced a major enough threat to our security, and we may, when really tested, have the propensity collectively to choose safety over liberty.

"Our history demonstrates that Americans have the capacity to react to adversity in a general director toward fascism," he concludes.

"On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century" by Timothy Snyder (Tim Duggan Books, Penguin Random House, 2017) explores how leaders embrace fundamentalism, reject facts and rely on arguments of victimization:
"Both fascism and communism were responses to globalization: to the real and perceived inequalities it created, and the apparent helplessness of the democracies in addressing them. Fascists rejected reason in the name of will, denying objective truth in favor of a glorious myth articulated by leaders who declined to give voice to the people. They put a face on globalization, arguing that is complex challenges were the result of a conspiracy against the nation. Fascists ruled for a decade or two [Hitler and his ilk], leaving behind an intact intellectual legacy that grows more relevant by the day. Communists ruled for longer, for nearly seven decades in the Soviet Union, and more than four decades in much of eastern Europe [and to this day in North Korea]. They proposed rule by a disciplined party elite with a monopoly on reason that would guide society toward a certain future according to supposedly fixed laws of history."
As a champion for freedom and democracy – and an intense study of history – Churchill stood strong against Hitler. He was a lynchpin in opposing tyranny and fascism. "Had Churchill not kept Britain in the war in 1940, there would have been no such war to fight."

The late Christopher Hitchens warned of tyrants who are unpredictable and who don't believe in facts. 

Reading is inoculation to protect us from fascism and tyranny. Otherwise we're at risk of a society as painted by Ray Bradbury in "Fahrenheit 451" and George Orwell in "1984."

Bradbury's "firefighters" were authoritarian book burners. In "1984" Orwell describes not only the pollution of ideals and objective facts but also the dissolution of meaning and disappearance of words.

In his "The Principles of Newspeak" appendix to "1984," Orwell writes: "Quite apart from the suppression of definitely heretical words, reduction of vocabulary was regarded as an end in itself, and no word that could be dispensed with was allowed to survive. Newspeak was designed not to extend but to diminish the range of thought, and this purpose was indirectly assisted by cutting the choice of words to a minimum."

Among Snyder's recommended list of books and authors packed into this slim collection of how-to advice:
  • "The Brothers Karamazov" by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" by Milan Kundera
  • "It Can't Happen Here" by Sinclair Lewis
  • "The Plot Against America" by Philip Roth
  • "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" by J. K. Rowling
  • "Politics and the English Language" by George Orwell
  • "The Language of the Third Reich" by Victor Klemperer
  • "The Origins of Totalitarianism" by Hannah Arendt
  • "The Rebel" by Albert Camus
  • "The Captive Mind" by Czeslaw Milsosz
  • "The Power of the Powerless" by Vaclav Haval
  • "Nothing is True and Everything is Possible" by Peter Pomerantsev
Timothy Snyder
Snyder asks us to examine the difference between nationalism and patriotism.
"A nationalist encourages us to be our worst, and then tells us that we are the best. A nationalist, 'although endlessly brooding on power, victory, defeat, revenge,' wrote Orwell, tends to be 'uninterested in what happens in the real world.' Nationalism is relativist, since the only truth is the resentment we feel when we contemplate others."
Chapter 10 is called "Believe in truth": "To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights."

Three generations of John S. McCains.
Chapter 10 is titled "Be a patriot": "Set a good example of what America means for the generations to come. They will need it."

Adm. John S. "Slew" McCain demonstrated his patriotism fighting for his country in both World Wars, eventually standing aboard USS Missouri (BB-63) for the surrender of Imperial Japan. Militarists in Japan were purveyors of a spreading nationalism and fascist tyranny in Asia in the 1930s and 40s.

Adm. McCain's son was another four-star flag officer, Adm. John S. "Jack" McCain Jr., a submariner who also fought in WWII. Jack McCain also fought during the Cold War and, of course, during the Vietnam War, where his son, Lt. Cmdr. John S. McCain III, the future senior senator of Arizona, was imprisoned as a POW for five-and-half years.

The McCains' story is one of service and sacrifice. Adm. "Slew" McCain, who saw so many naval aviators go to their deaths, died four days after Japan's surrender. Adm. Jack McCain had to carry out President Nixon's orders to bomb Hanoi, where he knew his son was a POW. Sen. John McCain has been serving his country throughout his life.

The legacy of another WWII naval hero, President John F. Kennedy, recognized Sen. McCain's patriotism. Sen. John McCain received the JFK Profile in Courage award from the Kennedy family for his commitment toward campaign finance reform. In his acceptance speech of May 24, 1999, McCain said: 

JFK's brother, Sen. Ted Kennedy, and daughter, Caroline, present Sen. McCain the courage award. 
"Most Americans believe that we all conspire to hold on to every political advantage we have, lest we jeopardize our incumbency by a single lost vote. Most Americans believe we would let this nation pay any price, bear any burden to ensure the success of our personal ambitions – no matter how injurious the effect might be to the national interest. And who can blame them. As long as the wealthiest Americans and the richest organized interests can make six figure donations to political parties and gain the special access to power such generosity confers on the donor, most Americans will dismiss the most virtuous politician’s claim of patriotism ... In John Kennedy’s memorable phrase, 'without belittling the courage with which men have died, we should not forget the courage with which men have lived.' I’ve seen more than my fair share of both kinds. And I could not forget them if I wanted to." – Sen. John S. McCain.

According to Fogarty in "Fascism: Why Not Here," again from 2009, citing the work of Nancy Bermeo, "The mutual demonization of opposing parties locks up the machinery of government":
"The single best predictor of success for fascist movements is political polarization ... Such movements tend to be antidemocratic because they blame the democratic process itself as the cause of the gridlock. When parties have become so polarized that all anyone – voters included – can think of is vanquishing opponents, then a sort of political disillusionment sets in, and political principles give way to an empty contentiousness. A second useful generalization about the rise of such movements is that they tend to occur when existing democratic regimes are incompetent. Government is not just a theater for ideological or political drama; it is also an essential institution to human life. People get hurt when it doesn't work ... These two generalizations offer a warning to Americans: beware those who seek always to discredit government, to blame it for the nation's ills, and to alienate citizens from its workings ... Their game is to alienate citizens from their government, to trivialize the vote, and to make the democratic process look ineffective and foolish. The best way to prevent fascism is to avoid alienation, to resist extreme polarization, and to remain connected to the political process."
Looking toward the future back in 2009, in the face of crises, when the Great Recession and Iraq and Afghanistan wars were deepening, Fogarty asked, "How will Americans react ... Will we still value our individualism and love of liberty? Or will we find a leader with a bold plan that requires new conquests, new enemies, or a new world order. Will Americans reject the cool rationalism of the Obama presidency and rush to a bold outsider with a simple explanation and audacious plans?"

CAM RANH, Vietnam (June 2, 2017) Sen. John S. McCain III is piped aboard during a visit to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) in Cam Ranh, Vietnam. The U.S. Navy has patrolled the Indo-Asia-Pacific routinely for more than 70 years promoting regional peace and security. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Joshua Mortensen/Released)

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Learning: Stay Gold

For a Navy Chief about to become a naval officer, a trip from Gig Harbor, Washington to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in a 36-foot sailboat "Stay Gold" became a lifetime adventure. Brian Bugge ("Boogie") and his crew mates Beau Romero, Willy Kunkle and Chris Ryder completed the journey this week, a journey and learning experience made possible because of the love and support of Brian's wife, Ashley. Anna General, editor of Navy Region Hawaii's "Ho'okele" published a three-part series about the team's adventure, "From Gig to Pearl," available at Of course, Navy Reads focused in on what was on the crew's reading list. Here are some excerpts of Anna's series:

by Anna General

U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Brian Bugge received orders to transfer to Commander, Submarine Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet Hawaii and will be promoted to an Ensign Limited Duty Officer on Aug. 1.

(Courtesy Stay Gold)
Prior to receiving his orders to transfer, Bugge had purchased a 36-foot sailboat which now gives him an opportunity to sail across the Pacific Ocean with his crew members Beau, Willy and Christopher.

After a year and a half of planning and preparing to get the crew physically, emotionally and financially ready, the boat (Stay Gold) was ready for its voyage to Hawaii.

“We decided to sail to Hawaii because it has been a lifelong dream of mine,” Bugge said. When the Navy said I could work in Hawaii and we just bought a boat that was capable of the journey, it seemed like the perfect thing to do.”

Ashley Bugge said, “Brian has put countless hours  literal blood, sweat and tears into making this dream come true for himself and it is the best feeling to be a part of this accomplishment for him. This is something he will look back on for the rest of his life and be able to say ‘I did that. I made that happen for myself and I'll have it forever.’”

(Photo from NOAA)
Although they have faced some challenges along the way, the crew encountered a wondrous sight as they sailed from Seiku to Cape Flattery, Washington at sunset.
“That night we passed through a massive pod of humpbacks, we even had two within a few feet of the boat! Yesterday, we had Pacific white-sided dolphins riding our bow wake for over an hour. Pretty amazing sight,” Bugge said.

Overcoming and tackling obstacles along the journey has been an adventure for the four-man crew as they approach Hawaii at average speeds. As they face the challenges of the open sea, their journey continues to their destination — Pearl Harbor.

“I think the most stressful part of being at sea so far away from anyone else is the total trust you develop in your fellow crew members and the boat,” said Brian Bugge, skipper of the Stay Gold crew.

“I’m really impressed with everyone’s cool heads and ability to solve problems under pressure. I feel like sailing is just a series of problems that require solving, along with some wind and sails,” he said.

With minimal sleep, dead batteries and a malfunctioning backstay (part of the sail rigging), they always keep their spirits high and work as a team to keep the boat moving.

Along the voyage, they spot a few albatross — said to be a sign of good luck and favor to the Sailor.

“It’s believed that the albatross holds the heart of a Sailor and they bring good omen,” Bugge said. “Let’s hope so.”

After their first week out to sea, their voyage has been more relaxing.

For tracking the weather conditions and communication, the crew uses an IridiumGo and Predict Wind to stay connected with the world while they are out to sea on the boat. This allows them the ability to post updates to their Facebook page, blog and have access to email.

As they motored on in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the time under the motor has given them the opportunity to relax, change batteries and catch up on reading despite having to shout to talk to someone four feet away.

“Beau (who hadn't decided what to pick from Stay Gold's library) finally picked 'John Adams' by David McCullough. I’m working through 'True Spirit' by Jessica Watson (the story of an Australian teenager's around-the-world sailing adventure)," Bugge said. 

"Willy is reading 'Blood Meridian' by Cormac McCarthy and Chris is reading 'Adventures at Sea in the Great Age of Sail,' edited by Captain Elliot Snow.

Earlier in the afternoon that day, the crew comes across a pod of dolphins and whales.

“It was hard to tell. We thought they were orcas at first but after they came closer they seemed like really big dolphins,” Bugge said.

As weather conditions continue to change and the wind started to pick up, they make it to the middle of the Pacific — closer to Hawaii.

While the tradewinds picked up, they reach 70 miles in the last nine hours.

“That’s quick for a 36-foot sailboat; we were able to keep a layline for Hawaii. The boat and crew are holding up well and we are in good spirits enjoying the ride.

The night before was magical as they witness the bioluminescence in the water.

“As the hull cut through the waves it would leave a trail of brightly shimmering creatures on the waters surface. You could look out from the boat, in the pitch black, and see the crests of the waves as they disrupted the water surface what would normally be white water glowed in the dark,” Bugge said.

“It looked like something out of a children’s book or another world even! So beautiful, it just reminds me how much there is to discover about the world we live in and how much of it is right in front of our eyes.”

As they made progress towards Honolulu, they were all getting anxious to get off the boat and get some downtime, take a good shower and sleep in a clean bed…

“We’ve seen a few aircraft flying overhead…first signs of civilization after venturing through 1500 miles of uninhabited badlands. The ocean is huge, it really makes one feel insignificant,” Bugge said.

Brian Bugge arrives in Pearl Harbor July 27. (Photo by MC1 Hinton)
(Stay Gold arrived safely in Pearl Harbor early on July 27, 2017.) This voyage has been a lifelong dream for Bugge and his crew as motivation drove them to take on this Pacific adventure.

“I had to do this voyage, I’ve recently realized, because I needed to know who I am,” said Bugge as he continues to share what motivated him.

“Ashley has encouraged me to live my life to the fullest, not anyone else’s. I didn’t even know what that was until recently. We have kids now, bills, houses and cars. Surely it wouldn’t be possible to undertake something as massive as crossing an ocean in a 36-foot sailboat. Her encouraging spirit has sparked my inner vision for who I am and what I want from life,” Bugge said.

“I can say with confidence — I am a Sailor. Through and through.”

(From Stay Gold's blog: "Ashley is a big reason why we are here ... To see this dream realized is almost too good to believe. I’ve laid awake at night thinking what it will be like to sail in the middle of the ocean, with nothing around but the stars and the sound of the waves to keep company – without Ashley and her tireless efforts, this endeavor would have never occurred. A debt I can never repay but I’ll spend the rest of my life trying.")

[Learning: Also on Brian's reading list: "Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation" by Thich Nhat Hanh, Thich Nhat Hanh, Penguin Random House (1999)]